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I am Rawda Douma and these are some of my diary entries while I was a slave in colonial America.
Day 1: Why Are They Taking This Many People? I live in Senegal. I have been living here for the past ten years of my life as my father decided to relocate for his oil company business. My father has died in a car accident only a couple of years after we got to Senegal. I have been hospitalized by his best friend’s family till I was able to live on my own while continuing my father’s business.
I was treated a little better as I was lighter because I am originally from Egypt, North Africa. As ironic as it sounds, but even African communities have an issue with colorism.
When the British invaded and started taking a lot of people as slaves to their colonies, most people like me lost their business and the unfortunate ones ended up slaves as well.
Whoever was taken as a slave, their families barely heard back from them. I was on my own, therefore I was more likely to be taken as a slave. I was very scared. I heard that they take slaves from Africa because we are stronger and can do their jobs faster and better, but I always wondered why they feel so superior. Why cannot they do what they want by themselves if they decide to ruin people’s lives like they did in Senegal? And why are they separating families and taking way too many of us? There was this tiny island by the coast; we called it Ber (CNN).
It was their biggest ports for slave trade. This island has had so many different colonizers on it, starting with the Portuguese, British, Dutch, Spanish and ending with the French halting it 312 years later (CNN).
The island was small, so it gave them the ability to keep the poor people they captured in. The fact that the island was surrounded by deep waters made it nearly impossible for anyone to even think about attempting to escape and come back. I have heard that they chained everyone there with metal balls to their necks or legs, so whoever is brave enough to attempt is to face death drowning in the water (CNN). Most of the people they took did not even go voluntarily. Who would put himself/herself into this hell? The Europeans would kidnap people at night while they’re sleeping or in groups. Some of these poor individuals were even sold out by the governments or even neighbors in exchange for money or goods that the Europeans offered them(Focus on Geography) .
Day 2: One of The Unfortunate Today was an awful day. Today is the day I became one of the unfortunate ones. As I said before, they kidnapped us during the night and targeted people who were on their own more. I guess I met the preferences. It was at night. I was alone sleeping in a tiny house that only consisted of one room where I put everything. I was not able to grab any of my belongings. They put us on carriages and then to the warehouse on the coast where they kept most of the people I heard went missing. All I can say is that it was an awful day and I do not wish it on anybody, therefore I will end this entry here.
Day 3: The Entrance and Mistreatment Towards Women I did not know which colony of theirs they were taking us too because I have heard that they have way too many. Then, one of the people who were with me told me that we were taken to North America. We arrived at Virginia which was apparently the entrance point of many African slaves to this colony. I stayed there for only three days and then was sent out with a group of other African slaves to South Carolina because they needed more slaves there as they had more plantations. Women in Africa did not work on the field except for light jobs such as hoeing the fields. Hoeing fields means to use a flat blade to break up the surface of the ground and destroy weeds. Women in Africa were mostly responsible for the house work and raising children while men were to do the more physical demanding jobs (the slave experience). Here, women were asked to do just the same as men. I heard about a story that happened in 1851 where a woman named Sojourner Truth challenged society telling the truth of how black enslaved women are treated. She said, “Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me!” (Zinn 128). This shows that enslaved black women were not put into houses like the very few white enslaved women or native indian women, but rather they were asked to work the same as men (The book).
As most African cultures are christian, some man tried to shut Truth down when she asked for better treatment when compared to men saying that women do not deserve as many rights because Christ was not a woman. (Zinn 128). So yes, black women were discriminated against for being women as well as for being black. They were not given the same rights as enslaved men even though they did the same work and yet they were not given the same opportunities as enslaved women of other racial backgrounds. As white masters and plantation owners preferred enslaved labor and sought more way to make it cheaper and to increase its numbers, they started valuing black women more. Black women were valued, but yet always mistreated, because they were not only workers for their masters or on the plantations, but also they were seen as reproducers to birth more slaves (The Book). This also can be seen in Truth’s story. She said she had given birth to thirteen children and had to go through the grief of giving away most of them into slavery as they were born to an enslaved woman (Zinn 128).
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